Wellbeing, Whole Health and Societal Transformation: Theoretical Insights and Practical Applications
Society faces several major interrelated challenges which have an increasingly profound impact on global health including inequalities, inequities, chronic disease and the climate catastrophe.
We argue here that a focus on the determinants of wellbeing across multiple domains offers under-realised potential for promoting the ‘whole health’ of individuals, communities and nature. Here, we review recent theoretical innovations that have laid the foundations for our own theoretical model ofwellbeing – the GENIAL framework – which explicitly links health to wellbeing, broadly defined. We emphasise key determinants across multiple levels of scale spanning the individual, community and environmental levels, providing opportunities for positive change that is either constrained or facilitated by a host of sociostructural factors lying beyond the immediate control of the individual (e.g. social cohesion and health-related inequities can either promote or adversely impact on wellbeing, respectively). Following this, we show how the GENIAL theoretical framework has been applied to various populations including university students and people living with neurological disorders, with a focus on acquired brain injury. The wider implication of our work is discussed in terms of its contribution to the understanding of ‘whole health’ as well as laying the foundations for a ‘whole systems’ approach to improving health and wellbeing in a just and sustainable way.